If Elijah can’t figure it out, what hope is there for me? Here in 1 Kings 17, the prophet finds himself in a quandary. About what? Fleeing drought and famine in Israel, he finds much the same in Zarephath, a Phoenician town along Israel’s Mediterranean northern coast. He meets a widow who is preparing a last supper for herself and her son. Only enough flour and oil for a trifle of a final meal. Nothing extra to share especially with a total stranger.
Not known for shyness, Elijah tells this poor woman to give him some water and food before they get a bite or a sip. Can you imagine? What chutzpah. What a nerve. Brazen so-and-so. Here, serve me first!
You probably know that God performs a miracle. This widow will not run out of flour or oil as long as the famine lasts. Cheers go up daily as God’s provision is made for all three.
Sometime later, this woman’s faith gets tested when her only son dies. She rails against Elijah, wondering if her sins have caught up with her–‘What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?’ (1 Kings 17:18). Her faith hits a brick wall. Hangs by a tiny filament of thread.
Elijah knows who can help–“Then he cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing him to die?'” (1 Kings 17:20). The prophet doesn’t know what’s going on. What gives, Lord? What are you up to? Killing her son? See what I mean?
If Elijah doesn’t know, how can we? Often I have no idea what God wants me to do. Oh sure, not to murder or steal or lie. The Ten Commandments. No problem there. But lots of other decisions are left hanging in the air, without a clue or hint…from Him. Silence from above. E-mails and texts ignored. No return call.
When in doubt, do what Elijah does. What’s that? He takes hold of the boy. Doesn’t bury his head in the sand. Grabs hold. Talks with his Lord. Lays it all out. No crafting certain words. Prays for life to return. And then prays some more.
In this case, the boy revives. But who knows? Maybe, in my case, nothing changes. Or I won’t like God’s answers. The opposite of what I asked for. Or no word at all. Then what? That’s my quandary. Just me?
Can I still hang in there with Jesus? Pray without ceasing? Without obvious answers? Move ahead with trust and faith? Be true to Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit? Can I? Will I?
Thank you, Lord, for faith that doesn’t give up. Amen.